CHILDREN could be forced to consider changing schools under plans to alter the way free transport is provided.
A consultation asking for feedback from Herefordshire residents ended on Friday (October 18) with the county council now set to look at how they fund the transport scheme.
In documents sent out as part of the consultation, officers conceded it could have the effect of parents changing their child’s school, as if the changes go ahead they will only be eligible for free transport to the nearest school.
This means those living on the outskirts of Ledbury may only be funded for school over the border in Malvern while elsewhere in the county, funding may only be provided for transport to Gloucestershire or even Welsh schools even if they are in a catchment area for a school in Herefordshire.
Under the Education Act 1996, councils have a statutory duty to make arrangements for certain categories of eligible children, with discretion allowed in other cases where it is felt they are necessary to enable a child to attend school.
In the documents, officers said the options were either to keep transport provision but ask parents to make contributions to a ‘vacant seat’ payment scheme, to remove provision for non-eligible children or to find alternative ways of saving £250,000.
It is not yet known whether any changes would be introduced next September, in 2015 or whether they will be phased in over the next two years, although this is the least preferred option due to the increased costs this is likely to incur.